Why I Believe What I Believe

Last Spring, one of my oldest best friends left on a mission. Caleb & I drove to Idaho Falls for her farewell, and in her talk she said something I've never forgotten. She said, "A lot of people were really confused at why I'd want to go on a mission, why I would spend a year and a half of my life doing this. I think that's because I never made it clear to them how important this gospel is to me, and I should have." It really made me think. I've spent the almost five years since my baptism fighting off a lot of well-intentioned people who are determined to tell me exactly what I believe. Every time, they approach me with looks of pity, asking, "Why did you choose to get baptized?" in voices that clearly say they aren't going to listen to the answer. They've made up their minds. Many of them have spent the majority of their lives in Utah, and they have their opinions. The second I got baptized, I turned into a bumbling idiot in their eyes.
I used to get upset and frustrated in these situations, but now I know it wasn't their fault, it was mine. I have never made it clear to them why this gospel is so important to me. And while I know a blog post is far from hanging a banner out my car window or shouting it from the rooftops, I also think I'm guilty of, for the most part, keeping my faith off the internet. To some extent, that's because it's so important to me and I don't want to put it out there for others to bash. But I also think I tuck it away, pretending it's not so important to me so I won't offend anyone.
Well, this is my blog. If you're going to get offended, now is your chance to stop reading.
I didn't grow up in the church, but I was born and raised in Brigham City, so I think I definitely grew up in the church culture. I know what it's like from the outside. I know how it feels to be the only kid in your class who doesn't go to mutual, who isn't planning her temple marriage, and whose parents don't care if she wears a halter-top dress to a dance. I know what it's like to date someone who, on the way in to meet his parents, whispers, "Don't tell them you're not a Mormon, or they'll kick you out." I know how it feels to be the minority in this culture. Don't get me wrong, it bothered me. It was difficult. But I think it was divinely planned that way.
Because, somehow, I always knew I'd join the church someday. When I was a Junior, my best friend Chris and I decided we wanted to go to every church we could find. I knew I was going to end up joining the LDS church, but I fought it kicking and screaming the whole way, because that was the hardest possible thing I could have chosen. I'm not just talking about the fact that our church services are three times the length of most, or that I'd have to be "reverent" the whole time (something us Callaway's do not easily do), but I knew the effect that decision would have on everyone around me. So, I decided to go on a hunt for something, anything else that would feel right.
Chris and I went to a lot of different churches, and I learned a lot. I learned that Episcopalians all take their Sacrament out of the same giant cup. I learned that some Lutherans give you the option between apple juice or grape juice. Then I learned that the grape juice was really wine, and that I really don't like the flavor of wine. I learned that nearly every church in Brigham city felt the need to get in a few jabs at the Mormons during their sermons, and that always really bothered me.
But then it happened: we found the perfect church. It was only an hour long, there were like 3 pastors who would switch off and give awesome lessons, and then the rest of the hour was spent singing. Loudly. It was awesome.
We went to that church for several months, and after awhile one of our other friends who went there said she was going to get baptized, and asked if I wanted to get baptized the same day. I had this immediate sinking feeling. No. So I started taking the missionary lessons.
Right away, it was like all those missing pieces from the other churches fell into place. All the questions I'd had my whole life suddenly had definite, obvious answers. It was exactly what I had been afraid was going to happen all along. THIS was the hard part. How could I just rip my family apart like that?
Somehow, it all worked out better than I ever could have hoped. Now, nearly five years later, I look at all I have and I know that I wouldn't have half of it if I hadn't made that decision years ago.
I spent a lot of time feeling picked on because of my situation, but now I couldn't be more grateful for it. I was able to search out what I wanted. I now know with a certainty exactly what I believe, and why. While so many of my friends have fallen away from the faiths they were raised in, I was lucky to grow closer to it the older I was. I was able to choose for myself, and I think that is a big part of the reason it's so important to me.
So despite all the misconceptions, all the people I know are reading this and rolling their eyes about how "silly Anndee is", I know that what I believe is true. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, despite what anyone else may tell me about my own beliefs, that this is true. I know because I didn't read about it in some article on the internet, or hear it from my parents. I know because I learned, I prayed, and I gained a testimony of it. To anyone who I've never made it clear to before, I am not delusional. I did not lose my mind. I know.
That, among all the other blessings in my life, is why this gospel is so important to me, and why no one can ever convince me otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. You're amazing and so brave! What a neat story. And I know too.